Former OKC Thunder forward Perry Jones NBA return bid fails as he returns to Europe

OKC Thunder: Perry Jones III (1) of the BIG3 Enemies (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Perry Jones III (1) of the BIG3 Enemies (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Former OKC Thunder dual forward Perry Jones bid for an NBA camp invite fails as the 27 year old signs overseas on a deal to play with the Bursaspor in Turkey.

Back in 2012, the OKC Thunder drafted Perry Jones III with their 28th selection. At the time there was hope Jones could transition into the pros following two seasons at Baylor University and become a contributing member of the Thunder reserve unit.

Jones arrived with the potential to play either forward position given his 6’11” frame. Or rather, that was the hope, that he would develop the long range shot and improve defensively. The thinking was Jones would afford the OKC Thunder a small ball lineup with him even potentially playing at the five, a solid power forward contributor or that (then Thunder coach) Scott Brooks could move him to the small forward to offer a lankier reserve lineup.

The excitement around Jones was tied to his continually improving shot efficiency which increased in his two seasons at Baylor both from the charity stripe and from behind the arc. Jones also displayed capability defensively producing a positive box on each side of the hardwood.

In two seasons at Baylor, the forward produced an average stat line of 13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks.

Notably, Jones arrived in OKC the same season James Harden was traded which indirectly may have affected his time with the Thunder. Other youngsters were on the squad who equally needed time on the court to assess their capabilities.

In his three seasons with the OKC Thunder Jones experienced 143 appearances with the varsity group. In his sophomore season, he played in 62 games and began to show potential from the 3-point line shooting 36.1 percent making at least one attempt per game.  Unfortunately, in 2014-15 when the Thunder focused on increasing those efforts (1.4 attempts per game) his efficiency slid off a cliff (23.3 percent) and his role within the team dissipated.

By this point, the OKC Thunder were keying in on winning a title and their depth limited opportunities, particularly for the reserve unit. At the center, the team had youngsters, Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter. Plus there was a glut of frontcourt talent including starters Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka with ample backup via Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, Steve Novak, and youngster Mitch McGary.

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Jones played 43 games with the varsity unit that season (19 fewer than the season prior) and was often relegated to D-League Tulsa 66ers (now G-League OKC Blue).

By the summer of that year, the OKC Thunder elected to move on trading Jones to the Boston Celtics plus cash and the Thunder 2019 second-round draft pick who became Isaiah Roby this past summer. In return, the Celtics sent back what seemed like a meager offering of a 2018 second-round pick.

That later conveyed into Kevin Hervey for the OKC Thunder. If Hervey ends up becoming a member of the varsity team and carves out a spot for his future on the team expect Jones to become the answer to a trivia question.

Jones never fully found his footing with a varsity club bouncing around the D/G-League. This summer he co-captained the BIG3 Enemies team with Gilbert Arenas and was hoping to impress enough to get invites to training camps.  In the end, the invites for the 27 year old weren’t extended so he’s elected to return to Europe.

As per Keith Smith‘s tweet, above Jones will join the Turkish League Bursaspor squad. This is Jones second stint overseas where he last played for the Khimki team in 2016-17 of the VTB United League.

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Once considered a forward with the potential to make a mark in the NBA Perry Jones is yet another example of how difficult it is for players to truly carve out a niche in the NBA.